verb (used with object), cal·i·brat·ed, cal·i·brat·ing.

to determine, check, or rectify the graduation of (any instrument giving quantitative measurements).
to divide or mark with gradations, graduations, or other indexes of degree, quantity, etc., as on a thermometer, measuring cup, or the like.
to determine the correct range for (an artillery gun, mortar, etc.) by observing where the fired projectile hits.
to plan or devise (something) carefully so as to have a precise use, application, appeal, etc.: a sales strategy calibrated to rich investors.

Origin of calibrate

First recorded in 1860–65; caliber + -ate1
Related formscal·i·bra·tion, nouncal·i·bra·tor, cal·i·brat·er, nounin·ter·cal·i·bra·tion, nounre·cal·i·brate, verb (used with object), re·cal·i·brat·ed, re·cal·i·brat·ing.un·cal·i·brat·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for calibrate


verb (tr)

to measure the calibre of (a gun, mortar, etc)
to mark (the scale of a measuring instrument) so that readings can be made in appropriate units
to determine the accuracy of (a measuring instrument, etc)
to determine or check the range and accuracy of (a piece of artillery)
Derived Formscalibration, nouncalibrator or calibrater, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for calibrate

1839, verb formed from caliber + -ate (2). Related: calibrated; calibrating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

calibrate in Medicine




To check, adjust, or determine the graduations of a quantitative measuring instrument by comparison with a standard.
To determine the caliber of a tube.
To make corrections in or adjust a procedure or process.
Related formscali•bra′tor n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

calibrate in Science



To check, adjust, or standardize a measuring instrument, usually by comparing it with an accepted model.
To measure the diameter of the inside of a tube.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.